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02mydafsoup-01

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Yesterday however may have marked a bell weather moment for Facebook and its willingness to compromise users, their privacy and their ability to freely associate and organise. As Guy Aitchison put it,


Profiles are being deleted without warning or explanation. In the last 12 hours, Facebook has deleted over 50 sites. It may well be that these groups are technically in violation of Facebook’s terms of agreement, which state that participants in social media must not make use of a "fake name". But the timing – on the royal wedding and May day weekend – is deeply suspicious. We don’t know for certain, but this purge of online organising groups could be linked to the wider crackdown on protest by authorities in Britain. Either way, it is a scandalous abuse of power by Facebook to arbitrarily destroy online communities built up over many months and years. These groups provide a vital means for activist groups to communicate with their supporters.

   

While these profiles were technically in breach of terms of use, only British anti-cuts profiles were taken down during the 12 hour period. This all being within the broader context of an offline repression of dissent that involved dozens of ‘pre-emptive’ arrests on charges as Kafkaesque as ‘Conspiracy to cause a public nuisance’. There were also raids on squats in London, Bristol and Brighton, heavy handed policing of public assemblies in Glasgow and Bristol and nearly a hundred more arrests on the day itself in and around central London for crimes such as having placards in bags and potentially offending royalist and homophobic sensibilities.

It appears that Facebook may have had contact with elements within the British establishment, be it the Home Office or the London Met. Given that these profiles could have been pulled on a technicality anyway, Facebook may have been quite willing to collaborate in shutting down these accounts, denying activist groups the ability to quickly organise around an event the authorities were determined to see pass off without the slightest possibility of protests or disruption.

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The Facebook Purge: Corporate power, political influence and the need for alternative networks | openDemocracy - 2011-04-30

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